Princess Royal visits World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals

On Friday, 14 October, HRH The Princess Royal visited the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals hosted at Saundersfoot Harbour, Pembrokeshire. She was introduced to athletes from Great Britain, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland and the USA and watched preliminary rounds of this exciting new format for rowing racing.


Hosted by Jeremy Wilton, Chairman of the World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals 2022 and Dan Fella, Chief Executive Officer of Welsh Rowing, Her Royal Highness was keen to learn about coastal sculling and beach sprint racing.

Jeremy said, “It’s been a real honour to have had HRH The Princess Royal visit the first World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Great Britain and for her to meet some of our athletes. She had a really interesting conversation with five seniors and five juniors, which she found really engaging and which they really enjoyed.”

Naimh Doogan, who’s representing Ireland in the Coastal Mixed Coxed Quads said, “She asked me how the new coastal sculling boats differ from classic racing boats, and revealed that she’d learned to row herself in heavy traditional boats in Scotland.”

Princess Royal with umbrellaUndeterred by heavy rain, Her Royal Highness then strolled to the Harbour Lounge spectator area where she chatted to Jean-Christophe Rolland, President of World Rowing and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member and Mark Davies, Chair of British Rowing. Looking out over the beach, she was able to see beach sprint racing’s fast and furious run-row-run format for herself, and appreciate why it’s fun for competitors as well as being spectator friendly.

Beach sprint rowing has just been added to the 2026 Commonwealth Games and is hotly tipped for inclusion in the Olympic rowing programme from the 2028 Games onwards. A decision from the IOC, of which HRH The Princess Royal has been a member since 1988, is expected in June 2023.

Samantha English with Princess AnneBefore leaving, Her Royal Highness was presented with a commemorative winner’s medal by Samantha English, Competition Manager of the World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals 2022. The medals have a striking, contemporary design incorporating Welsh slate and were made by a family business based in nearby Port Talbot.

The World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, which took place from 14-16 October, attracted entries from 140 crews representing 27 countries including nine from Great Britain.

Immediately before visiting the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, HRH The Princess Royal unveiled the name of Free Spirit/Ysbryd Rhydd, the life-sized, three-masted Coastal Schooner, part of the Wales International Coastal Centre on Saundersfoot Harbour, which is a £10 million development funded by EU Funding Bodies, Welsh Government and Coastal Communities Fund.

Photo credit: World Rowing/Mauricie Summers